From the Worldwide Faith News archives

United Methodists win top religion communication awards

From "NewsDesk" <NewsDesk@UMCOM.ORG>
Date Tue, 6 Apr 2004 13:37:56 -0500

April 6, 2004	News media contact: Linda Green 7 (615)742-5470 7 Nashville,
Tenn. 7 E-mail: 7 ALL {161}

By Nancye Willis*
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (UMNS)-United Methodists figured prominently in the 75th
anniversary meeting of the Religion Communicators Council, winning major
awards in the organization's DeRose-Hinkhouse competition and directing
celebratory activities. 

The Rev. Steve Horswill-Johnston, executive director of the denomination's
welcoming and media ministry, received Best of Class for "The Gift." The
30-second television commercial is among several that air three times a year
on U.S. cable and broadcast networks as part of the Igniting Ministry effort,
administered by United Methodist Communications. 

United Methodist communicators receiving Awards of Excellence during the
March 25-27 meeting were Alice Smith, editor of the Wesleyan Christian
Advocate, which serves the denomination's North and South Georgia annual
conferences; and Kimberly Pace and Carolyn Dandridge, communication staff
members at the United Methodist Board of Discipleship, for the newsletter

The awards were among 90 recognizing exemplary work, chosen out of 275
entries in the competition. This year's RCC convention included a celebration
of the organization's 75th anniversary and opened with a gala event
highlighting the convention's theme, "Looking Back, Looking Forward." 

Larry Hygh, director of communications for the United Methodist
California-Pacific Annual Conference, served as emcee for the evening, which
included music of the decades; a look at communications changes in the past
75 years; and remembrances of the organization's founders, distinguished
members and milestones. Dressed in 1970s-style clothing, including an Afro
wig and dashiki, Hygh led the group through hand motions for "peace, love,
soul," a popular greeting in the '60s and '70s.

Shirley Struchen, RCC executive director, noted that the convention theme was
particularly significant to the 20 people attending their first RCC
convention. "It was wonderful to see the networking and sharing of
information between those who are new in the profession and those who have
been in it for 50 years," Struchen, a retiree of United Methodist
Communications, said.

Six aspiring communicators, including Royya James, recipient of the Judith
Weidman Racial Ethnic Minority Fellowship awarded by United Methodist
Communications, attended the convention on scholarship. James is working in
the denomination's Wyoming Annual Conference.

Plenary speakers included Nancy Snow, assistant professor at California State
University-Fullerton, whose keynote address centered on persuasion,
propaganda and faith issues; Mark Pinsky, Orlando Sentinel columnist and
author of The Gospel According to The Simpsons; and Jody Calendar, Calendar
Communications, who works with the Associated Press in a project examining
public perceptions of the accuracy, fairness and competence of news

RCC's annual Wilbur Awards, which acknowledge quality work in faith values
and themes in the secular media, were made March 27 in 15 categories. Winners
included the Boston Globe newspaper, Minnesota Public Radio and Jerry
Bruckheimer Television. 

United Methodist Mike Hickcox, director of communications in the New England
Annual Conference, handed over the president's gavel of the RCC Board of
Governors to Ron Glusenkamp, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. 

New members named to the RCC board of governors included United Methodist
communicators Doug Cannon, Southwest Texas Annual Conference, and Laura
Flippen, Board of Higher Education and Ministry. Other United Methodists on
the board include executive committee members Dan Gangler, Indiana Area, vice
president; Hickcox, immediate past president, and Struchen, along with Deb
Christian, United Methodist Reporter, and Hygh. Barbara Nissen, United
Methodist Communications, rotated off the board after serving five years.

RCC is an international interfaith association of religion communicators at
work in print and electronic communication, marketing and in public
relations. Founded in 1929, it is the oldest professional organization of its

It promotes excellence in communication of religious faith and values in the
public arena and encourages understanding among religious and faith groups.
RCC has nearly 600 members in 11 chapters in the United States and at-large

A full listing of winners of the DeRose-Hinkhouse and Wilbur awards is
available on the RCC Web site, 

# # #
*Willis is editor for the Public Information Team at United Methodist
Communications in Nashville, Tenn.  The above release was adapted from an
article by Barbara Nissen, director of United Methodist Communications'
Conference Resourcing Team.


United Methodist News Service
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